“I’m a cautionary tale that doesn’t have a bad ending.”
Michael J. Fox
I love the way that our boy Michael views his life as a story — one that could have ended
badly, but didn’t. Like the rest of us, he’s had his ups and downs and yet, he can stand back and look at what’s happened to him, not just with humor, but with a sense of wholeness.
That’s what stories do: they allow us to make sense of things, to see patterns, to understand, even haltingly and often incompletely, but with some measure of belief that there is, in fact, a narrative kind of flow to the paths our lives have taken.
Over and over again, I see friends reinventing themselves, rewriting the stories of their lives, making transitions and changes that might have been impossible for them earlier on, but that now make perfect sense. And it encourages me to see them finding new ways to give meaning and joy to the stage of their lives that they’ve entered by seeing those lives as stories that they can shape and edit and revise. There’s power in this process just as there is power in weaving a story from our imaginations — one that may not be true on the surface but that is deeply true in what it reveals about life and living.
In a sense, all our stories begin in the same way: “Once upon a time….” And while we have no control over our own version of that opening, however difficult or charmed it may have been, at some point, we have the chance to pick up the pen and become the storyteller in our own lives: It’s our story and only we can tell it. So wherever we are in that story — at the early stages, the midpoint or beyond, let’s remember that in the end, like Michael, we’re all cautionary tales more or less — and let’s make sure that the ending is everything we want it to be. And since we’re writers, one of the ways we can find our way to the heart of our own stories is by doing what we were meant to do: telling the stories that touch the hearts of those around us and those waiting for our tales to be told: our readers. Write on.